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Musicians and program align for magical Sarasota Orchestra concert

12.09.17
Benjamin Beilman
Sarasota Herald Tribune

A multitude of details must align in strict precision for a successful orchestra concert. Beyond notes and rhythm, these include, but are not limited to, atmosphere, acoustics, mental focus, physical stamina, and that indefinable spiritual connection. I might argue that the stars must be aligned as well to produce some of the magic we heard in Friday night's concert with the Sarasota Orchestra.

The first brilliant burst of Hector Berlioz's "Roman Carnival" Overture, Op. 9, quickly gave way to a deliciously lyric English horn solo. Guest conductor Larry Rachleff leveraged the many fine voices of other soloists throughout this Romantic-era favorite, at times lush and at others bright and energetic. All the elements fit together in snug precision.

My ear was hooked by an added vibrant depth found in the full string ensemble which carried through into the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14. The guest soloist was Benjamin Beilman, whose critical accolades are already placing him on that star map, and quite accurately so. There could be no doubt that this still-young man pulled the music directly from his heart with extraordinary artistry. From the first lofty, wide-ranging dreamer's tune to the wrenching melancholy in the second movement, I was entranced by the purity and emotional expanse of Beilman's unique tone quality.

Then there was that breathless, breathtaking final movement that flew at a faster tempo than I have ever heard before. It was brilliant! This score puts everyone to the test and Beilman was not the only one showing his mettle. The thrill of this performance will certainly live in my memory. 

Read the rest of the review here